Kashmir Bachao Andolan demands case against Google under Section 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961
Pune, India (Nov 15, 2009): Kent Walker, Vice President and General Counsel, Google Inc, has admitted, in a recent statement to KashmirTelegraph.com that in its Google Analytics Tool offered by the company, in India, Map of India is, indeed, distorted, misrepresented.
"We have reviewed this matter internally and can confirm that this map image (showing parts of Indian state of J&K, as part of Pakistan and China) inadvertently appeared on the (Google) analytics tool offered on the Indian domain," Kent Walker was quoted as saying, in a statement to KashmirTelegraph.com. However, despite glaring errors in the Map of India, clearly questioning the territorial integrity of India, Google Inc stopped short of make an apology or setting a timeframe for correction.
Reasoning that the map appearing on these tools (Google Analytics) is not drawn to scale, Kent Walker said there may be some discrepancies in representing some contours, leaving a question mark on the accuracy of the Map of India, even after Goggle does eventually make the necessary, required corrections.
While Google confirmed that the distortions in the Map of India would be addressed, the company refused to put a firm timeline for the agreed corrections. "It can take some time for the change to actually be reflected on the tool as available on the Indian domain," said Kent Walker.
As follow-up, repeated attempts by KashmirTelegraph.com to seek and confirm timelines with Gitanjli Duggal, Google's lead lawyer in India proved to be unsuccessful.
ML Infomap, an independent entity, and India partner of Google Inc, for their product, Google Maps, categorically supported the position of Kashmir Bachao Andolan on distortion of the Map of India in the Google Analytics Tool. Manosi Lahiri, representative of ML Infomap, told KashmirTelegraph.com that maps - referring to images of Map of India from the Google Analytics Tool - clearly do not show boundaries that are officially recognized by the Government of India.
"This is to state that the boundaries shown on the attached maps (referring to images of Map of India from the Google Analytics Tool) are not provided by ML Infomap. ML Infomap is an Indian company and does not question the correctness of the boundaries recognized by Survey of India. I reiterate ML Infomap has not supplied these boundary maps of India," Manosi Lahiri was quoted as saying in a written communication to KashmirTelegraph.com.
This latest controversy involving Google's distortion and misrepresentation of the Map of India (in the Google Analytics Tool) was taken up with Google Leadership Team by Kashmir Bachao Andolan, public policy think tank on Jammu and Kashmir, and publishers of KashmirTelegraph.com
"Our expectation is that Google products must comply in letter and spirit with the guidelines laid down by the Government of India. Conformance to Political, Outline, and Physical maps of the Republic of India is not an option but a requirement. It is an extremely sensitive matter in the sub-continent and must be addressed accordingly," Romeet K Watt, Chief Editor, Kashmir Telegraph, representing Kashmir Bachao Andolan said in a communiqué to the Google Leadership Team.
Unhappy with the delays in correcting the distortion and misrepresentation of the Map of India, Romeet K Watt, in a separate note to Gitanjli Duggal, Google's lead lawyer in India, asked for time-bound corrective action. "We'd like to have a time-frame put, and agreed, within which Google Inc and Google India would correct the unacceptable aberration(s) in the India map. End date is a must," Romeet K Watt was quoted as saying in his communiqué to Google legal team in India.
"The matter has been brought to the notice of Survey of India and all relevant ministries, for necessary action, however, it is regrettable that we've till now not seen any action against Google Inc or / and its subsidiary, Google India. The “authenticity” of external boundaries vis-à-vis Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and the coastal boundaries is an important matter." Watt told KashmirTelegraph.com.
It is pertinent to point out that publication of maps depicting inaccurate external boundaries and coast-lines of India tantamount to questioning the territorial integrity of India and is a cognizable offence under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961. Section 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961 (Act No.23 of 1961) clearly states that whoever by words either spoken or written, or by signs, or visible representation or otherwise, questions the territorial integrity or frontiers of India in a manner which is, or is likely to be prejudicial to the interests of the safety or security of India, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Watt further added that Google Inc has misrepresented and distorted the Map of India, thus clearly questioning the territorial integrity of India. "It is a serious matter - we insist Google immediately withdraw its Google Analytics product from India, till it fully conforms to the topographical and geographical maps published by Survey of India. Depictions in keeping with our stated positions are fundamental for our territorial integrity," Watt further said.
"By showing an incorrect Map of India, Google Inc and Google India have committed a crime, under Section 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961 (Act No.23 of 1961, and, as such, we call upon the Government of India to take strong action against Google by registering a case and prosecuting Google Inc and Google India, at the earliest," Watt demanded.
In the past also, Google Inc has also been involved in a similar controversy pertaining to the distortion and misrepresentation of the Map of India, in their other popular product, Google Maps (maps.google.co.in). Kent Walker had earlier claimed in a communiqué to KashmirTelegraph.com that Google Inc has taken steps to ensure that their Geo Products (like Google Maps), that are available on the local Indian domain comply with local laws.